Ask the right question, get the right answer

Talked about this during a lunch I went to with Brent Huston (web, twitter) and he asked me had I done a write up on this ... and I haven't so I shall.  It's a good piece of info that I think everyone should master - Ask the right question, get the right answer.  This pays off in so many ways, it isn't funny and you can use it and abuse it everywhere, in everyday life.  This isn't a great theory that doesn't work in reality, this is a basic foundational requirement.  Yes, I feel very strongly about this and Brent suggested I should write up how I managed to teach it so here goes.

I hinted at this when I mentioned a good friend of mine, Jay Saunders, was graduating.  I tortured him for a solid 2 months (probably more), teaching him this practice.  When he started, I told him the number one thing was teaching him how to ask the right questions.  Purpose being is multi-layered.  First, without asking the right questions, you waste a lot of time figuring out what they (the users) really mean.  Second, if you take a minute to think about what you really want, you also should think of the possible reactions of the person being asked -- I will come back to this because there's a lot of nasty pitfalls that need to be addressed.  Third, it forces a different thought process and finally, the real goal, it forces the person being asked to NOT give a wrong answer. More...

Production Outage Planning - 10 (or so) points

I've recently went through a number of production planned outages of a group of systems we've recently taken over. I like these outages because of that magical word planned. This isn't planned like you put it in your planner and write down a time, no this is a concrete list with no surprises, no unclear roles, everything is laid out and everyone knows what they are doing. This doesn't seem hard and it really isn't, just takes some attention. Being my 2nd or 3rd one on this current project and I'm noticing some good stuff and possible fail routes that can easily be avoided. More...